Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the journey continues...

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life is better when I'm running

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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 2012

Kingfishers & Newton Pacers @ AHM Start - CK Chin

The annual Singapore Bay Run / Army Half Marathon (AHM) has been recognized as the largest and most important half marathon race in the Singapore Running Calendar.  When it was rumored to be called off, there was much disappointment in the running community...good that it was eventually announced to be 'ON', albeit 2 weeks later on Sep 9.

Kingfishers @ AHM Start - Ck Chin

With the good news, I was able to put Team FatBird's Operation Kingfisher into action was to train the group of 100 FatBird Runners and prepare them well for The Army Half Marathon (AHM) 2012.

FatBirds & JMs @ Esplanade Bridge - BTing

Decked out in bright yellow Kingfisher running jerseys, we gathered just outside the Esplanade area a full hour before race start to warm-up, take group photos and go for the final loo-visits before lining up near to the respective Newton pace groups.  This year's AHM saw a lot less participants from the Army units as they were all encouraged to do the 10km distance instead.

Kingfishers just before race start - SC Lim

After some light entertainment from the MC to keep the crowd motivated, we were flagged off promptly at 5:15am.  There was a light congestion at the beginning as some of us did not manage to get to the front in spite of us being there quite early.  Still, we were patient as we paced ourselves and move to within sight of the pacers, and then putting our race plan into execution.  The cool air after an earlier bout of showers made the early kilometers pleasant, although the humidity levels remained high.  

This year's AHM route was generally an improvement over 2011, save for a few choke points, especially bad near the Tanjong Rhu area.  The tour around the Gardens by the Bay and avoiding the pancake-flat ECP were welcome touches to the course, although the pre-dawn start would not allow much scenery to be visually enjoyed.  Still, the nice weather and generous support stations of isotonic drinks, bananas, Salonpas gave us a peace-of-mind to focus on the race at hand.

 In a bid to make the ground conditions even 'sweeter', the race organizer actually laid red carpets along certain stretches.  However, as they were laid directly over uneven grass patches, the carpets posed some potential danger for falls and trips to the runners - in fact quite a number actually tripped up and got twisted ankles and swollen knees from falls.  The bottlenecks were a problem mainly to those running more than 2h for the 21km as they had to wait anywhere from 2-5min for certain choke-points to clear.

The cloud cover ensured the sun did not rear 
itself even till 9am, making the final km of the run more sustainable.  Although there were the occasional cramps from pushing the pace, most of our runners were able to sustain their planned paces to finish strongly inside of target times.  Heartiest congratulations go out to all of them who trained and raced to expectations.  Even the few who had caught the 'flu' bug just before this race ventured down and completed in very respectable form and time.  


I was able to enjoy my run thoroughly, cheering on fellow Kingfishers and FatBirds along the way, while still getting a respectable timing of 1:41h over a slightly longer HM distance of 21.4km.  I was pleased as punch to hear that most of the Kingfishers achieved their targets, with many doing outstanding timings and Personal Bests.  That is testament to the effectiveness of the short training stint we shared as a team.  

As we gathered near the Tan Kim Seng fountain to exchange congratulatory messages, share the joys and satisfaction of our race, take many group photos with different poses, we were glad we put in the commitment and dedication to training and following our race and pace plan to reap the fruits.  Kudos Kingfishers!

As we joyfully headed to nearby Marina Square to refuel and recharge, we were not feeling that drained nor too tired, with some even able to do multiple jumps and possibly planning for a recovery run later in the day.  I am most heartened by the good results and many PBs achieved by the Kingfisher trainees and even trainers, with many vowing to be back for Ops Kingfisher and AHM 2013.  Running The Bay? FatBirds Have Shown The Way!

Photo Contributions from CK ChinSC LimBTing

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sundown 2012: Mission Accomplished

It was yet another successfully executed Operation NightHawk for Sundown Marathon 2012.  The entire Sundown Ambassadors & Pacers team did very well to bring all the respective groups of runners to the finish.  We have been receiving compliments and notes of appreciation from the Sundowners since May 27.

The Night When Sundown Overcame Raindown!

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Graduation - Of A Sporting Kind

After having received a few degrees and diplomas that are business and technology related, this Specialist Diploma is unique and special to me as it is the first associated with sports and exercise, something that I have been passionate about for the past few years.

It was an interesting one year of classes, reports and projects under the guidance of qualified and experienced lecturers/specialists from RP, and alongside many fellow coaching and practitioner classmates from different sports - soccer, martial arts, bowling, tennis, taekwondo, archery, silat, basketball, volleyball and a host of other interesting disciplines.

I had fun mostly with all the discussions and project work of a sports nature, and this course will certainly add a practical and useful dimension to my academic  landscape and passion for distance running and marathoning.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Riding The Wind With Krupricka

The New Paper article, credit Dennis Quek for the scan

Facebook Photos from AC LeongMohan Marathon
Minimus Zero Launch Photos by Mohan Marathon

It was 2 weeks ago when I received an exciting piece of news from our friends from New Balance Singapore – Anton Krupicka , the Ultra Marathon extraordinare with many accolades and titles to this name in the world of ultra marathon adventure and endurance races, was coming to town.  Even more exciting was that a selected few of us were to personally meet up and run alongside this man, who rides the wind with nary any noise nor fuss.

Straits Times article by Chan U-Gene: Credit Mohan for the scan

There was a buzz in the local community when Anton arrived, and as the hours unfolded with stories about his simple and carefree lifestyle, the local running community got excited about how this ultraman, for all his age of just 28, could live so simply and yet accomplish so much.  The Straits Times and New Paper articles spoke of his living in a truck, waking up in the morning and just running into the Colorado mountains to begin enjoying his trail mileage of 200miles a week…for most of the time, Anton just need a pair of shorts (he runs barebody mostly) and a reliable pair of shoes to protect him from the elements. 

Anton burst onto the minimalist running scene with his invaluable inputs to the New Balance Minimus shoes that eventually set THE LIGHTEST on for new Balance to enter the minimalist running scene in a huge way, getting all the competitive shoe companies out there paying lots more attention to this new area of running shoe development.  The Minimus Trail (MT10) and before that, MT101, were trail shoes that received many rave reviews and recognition from not only the ultra-runners, but also the mainstream running community who were on a prowl for shoes and equipment which can help them achieve better running form as mentioned in the by-now-famous bible of barefoot running “Born To Run”.  Lots more about Anton can be gathered HERE @ Wiki and at his blog – Riding The Wind!

When I arrived to MacRitchie Reservoir (MR) amenities centre, Anton was already there chatting with fellow runners and the media.  I quickly grabbed the opportunity to get an autograph on my newly-minted MT00 (kind courtesy of NB) as well as my TFB Running Tee.  Anton, being the humble guy, not only entertained our requests for autographs, but also took the time for photos as well as talking about his feel of the Singapore weather and running community.  As I continue to engage him at close range, I still cannot absorb the fact that he is only 28, with such a big manner and maturity about him.

Action Photos from Mohan Marathon

Edmund from NB gave a brief of the route and with some light stretches, we headed straight onto the Northern Route.  As Anton was still recovering an injury, and he has a Ultra Marathon race in 2 weeks, we were told not to push him too hard…of course we had fast and experienced local runners like Sham, Ford, Jeri to be around just in case.  As we ‘jogged’ into the trails, we realized that Anton’s recovery pace was faster than many of our race pace for 5-10km…hahaha.  It was sheer fun to see the group of lead pacers running together with Anton, with a few of us deciding to play the role of 'roving' cameramen to take some nice pictures and photos of the team in action.  

Up The Slopes of The Northern Route @ MR

Anton has an effortless-looking stride and very relaxed form, probably explaining why he could go on for 100-150miles at that kind of fast speed through rock mountain terrain.  Because of the earlier rains, the MR trails were rather wet and slippery, but all these were mostly welcomed by Anton, who found the trails a little rocky, but more natural and becoming of a run through nature.  As with riding the wind, the run was speedy, smooth and quick. 

An Exhilarating Run @ MR

It was in no time we were back to the start of the trails, covering 7km within 35min, inclusive of stoppages for photos of course...PANT, PANT, PANT!  The NB MT00 shoes were taken through a good test on the muddy MR terrain that day, and I must say they passed with good grades, esp. in the area of lightness, trail-holding and versatility in uneven terrain.  

Group Photo with NB Runners & Friends: Photo Credit, Jeri Collett

It was an enjoyable experience for me to have run with a Ultra Marathon legend, and I was glad that the distance was short enough for me to at least catch some shots of the man and have a few words in between while sucking in air.  I didn’t spend too much time with my fellow running friends who were there, but I guess we all will understand that it was an opportunity not to be missed to speak and interact with this humble Ultra Marathon legend while we have him at such close proximity.  Check out The New Paper article Picking Up Tips From Krupicka for more of the amazing run with had with Anton.

We heard that Anton is very interested in the Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon – often dubbed the toughest mountain race in Asia/World…we certainly hope to see Anton again soon, if he does come for this race.  I would like to thank New Balance for organizing this and more importantly, inviting me and my fellow team mates and friends to meet with and Ride The Wind with Anton Krupicka!

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Sunday, April 01, 2012

2XU Compression Run 2012

 2XU Compression Run Finisher Medal: Photo Credit, Michael Quek

Facebook Photos from AC Leong, Min, Running Shots, Steven Tan

The 2XU Compression Run promised a nice route, with a convenient start point just outside of the Nicholl Highway MRT.  After looking at the surrounding carpark availability, I decided to take the first train (MRT) from my place down to the start point, knowing that I would be quite close to the starting time.  The train ride., packed mostly with 2XU participants, turned out to be rather smooth.  It was only when we alighted at Nicholl Highway that an incident happened – some of the 2XU runners didn’t have time to get out of the train before the doors automatically shut, and the driverless train moved off…just hope that it didn't turn out too bad for the runners.

At The Start Line: Photo Credit, Running Shots

FatBird Runners looking happy

With Newton Running Club @ Start Point: Photo Credit, Soo Kok Meng, Steven Tan

I arrived to the start line at 7:45pm, after bumping into Berno, Kyle, Tejinda, Emily and Clara, and inched my way slowly to the front where the stage was.  Bumped into the energetic bunch of runners from Newton Running Club and we had a good time taking photos while waiting for flagoff.  With a light delay of 10min, we finally started and headed straight towards Suntec City.  

Met many familiar faces like David Shum, Tay, Gary, etc who were going at 4:15min pace.  I decided to pull back to 4:30min just so as not be drawn into overworking myself too early.  The roads were pretty wide for this crowd and we had good access for most of the way.  There were the usual runners whom we always see at races, and some would be snapping photos along the way.  It is always fun to do a race without too much pressure of getting any PBs….I kept telling myself to slow down to a more comfortable pace.
Striding well with Brooks PURE Connect shoes and 2XU compression socks

I settled down from 5km onwards, and started to enjoy the scenery and also to clap for those returning fast runners.  The sun was creeping up, and the heat could be felt, causing beads of perspiration flowing from my eyes, causing irritation no less.  There was scant relief when we turned back, and by 10km, the pace was slowing.  As we entered the Kallang Riverside, some of the earlier front runners were slowing even more than me, as I overtook a few of them.  

Otherwise, we were just happy to maintain about 4:45min pace to the finish.  The distance markers were very clear and pretty accurate, making the countdown that much easier.  The water points, stocked with Pocari was well managed with well-briefed volunteers handing out drinks, making it easy for us to grab, drink and still continue on.  There wasn’t much stoppage at the water stations then, with most of the runners moving on rather smooth.

 Min & Helen, after fulfilling her Pacer duty

With 2km to go, we could see the 10km runners merging in, but they were separated into a broader channel, leaving the 15km runners to run on the right side – very well thought out merge-control (SCMS can take a closer look at such organization).  With 1km to go, we picked up the speed slightly and coasted home feeling rather comfortable – there was no rush and everyone just took their time for a nice photo-finish.  I completed in about 70min, which was not too bad a time for the 15km distance, something which I do once every 1-2years :D Chatted with Robert at the finish chute, and congratulated him for a good race, before catching up with my sports science lecturers (who were also participating).  I then crossed over to go straight back into the MRT, shared the journey with Jacq, and reached home well within my appointment time.  

FatBird Runners basking in the post 2XU race experience

It was a very smooth race for me overall, and I enjoyed the whole experience thoroughly.  The first race experience with the Brooks PURE Connect shoes passed with flying colours.  The matching (with the running vest lah) 2XU Compression socks helped lots to delay the onset of lactate buildup, esp. in the faster initial km.  The finisher medal is nice and feels sufficiently solid, representative of the hard effort we put into the race.  I hope my fellow FatBird colleagues and friends too enjoyed the whole experience.  I will look forward to doing this race again next year, which by then could have a 21km category?  

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Sunday, February 26, 2012


U Run + Vertical Climb 2012 Start - Photo Credit Racers' Toolbox

This year’s U Run + Vertical Climb was quite special as we managed to gather quite a large group of FatBirds to participate in all categories of 10km+Vertical Climb, 10km and 5km Runs. Because of a more than doubling of participation, especially for the Vertical Climb Challenge, the organizers planned the start in waves and the end points for the CLIMB to be different than the 10km and 5km. Thus, we had a nice scenic run with nary an obstruction around the Esplanade, Nicholl Highway and Marina Bay areas.

Blast Off! - Photo Credit Run Society

Because of last year’s congestion for the climb up One Marina Boulevard (OMB) Towers, the organizers provided 2 access routes up, which made it a lot less congested this time round. A number of FatBirds for the RUN+CLIMB were early for the 7:00am Wave 1 flagoff, with some cool warmup by Amore Fitness instructors. Ong Ye Kung did the honours of flagging off, and away I went at about 4:30min/km. I was careful not to push the cardio too hard, but still maintain a reasonable pace to be running with a smallish group. Drinks stations of 2km apart was well stocked with Pocari Sweat, and by 4km I was pretty settled down. With the 30-storeys at the end in mind, I maintained some reserves for the finish, taking care not to go below 4:30min/km pace.

getting into the groove - Photo Credit Ng Chee Beng

There were many familiar faces and shouts of encouragement as we returned and met the oncoming runners along Nicholl Highway…the JMs, U Run groupies, FatBirds, SgRunners and other running friends – taking photos on the run. I was with an interesting group of 3, 1 tall Ang Moh, 1 VFF runner and another ‘botak’…we ran pretty much together till the end. By the 8km mark, we were back at start point/Floating Platform, and were ushered to climb the uphill MBS bridge…that pretty much took the final wind out of me, and I dropped the pace to 4:40min/km thereafter. With the OMB Tower in sight, I maintained a slower pace to finish the 10km with some spare.

6km mark along Nicholl Highway - Photo Credit JM BTing

Waving to JMs along Nicholl Highway - Photo Credit JM BTing

When my Garmin buzzed 10km, I started to walk towards the tower.  A few other runners too started to walk to suck in air for the ‘climb’. The cheerleaders were telling us to keep running, but that was the only opportunity for us to recharge before the climb. It was an arduous way up, although the steps were not steep and the stairway was pretty clear. However, the ventilation was not as good, and each time we pass the air vents, it was a pleasure to just suck in. I contemplated taking a breather midway by the side, but there just wasn’t too much space around. I decided to just proceed upwards to end the agony early. However, I was not too winded this time when I reached the top, given that I took single steps most of the time…haha.

Closing in for the finish - Photo Credit AC Leong

Still, it was great to finish at the top with the cool breeze blowing at our faces, and we could suck in deep all the air we were so deprived along the stairwell. I took the first bus back to Floating Platform with Ngee Hung and Gary, both of whom did so well to finish way ahead, and Gary even secured a good podium finish.  Collection of the finisher goodie bag and tee shirt was no hassle. The Finisher Tee was nice, much better than the men's race vest which was quite wierdly-cut.  By the time I got changed, Beverly and Amanda were just coming in for their 5km 8:30am start.

I proceeded to the end point to wait for the runners and had good chats with JJ, Ngee Hung and tekko. It was great to see the 10km runners finishing, and a number of familiar faces and friends with podium finishes and good timings. Swee Heng did a very fast 49min, and the others did well too. Thow Wee secured a 1st placing for corporate…wow!  Congrats also to XiuFang for her podium finish, and Danny, Diana, Erlina on their solid 10km runs.  Soon, Beverly finished her 5km with Amanda.  Met up with them and continued to catch up with old running kakis like Jancy, Vincent and tekko.

2012's Results

  RK    BIB           NAME               10KM              CLIMB            GUN           NETT
   34    1066    Anthony Sum       0:46:36.90        0:08:48.93      0:55:25.83     0:55:11.56
2011's Results

My timing for this year was slower than last year's by 15sec...haha, not bad for an enjoyable run without any run nor climb training at all.

I felt the race experience and organization was much better this year, with less congestion and a more solid-footed end point. There were some queues for the OMB bus-ferry and baggage points, but I guess those would be areas for improvement for next year. I feel it is a good value-for-$$ run, and barring any clashes with other events, we will be back for next year’s race.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Brooks Pure Project Series: First Encounters

Brooks Running has become one of the recent major shoe manufacturers to launch a line of ‘Minimalist’ shoes – The Pure Project series in late 2011.  When it came into Singapore just very recently, I found the opportunity to take a pair of the lightest and most minimalist version, The Pure Connect for some trial runs.  As I was new to the new technologies from Brooks, I went in quickly into youtube and found some good information of the philosophy and key features of this new line.

I put on the Flow and Connect to do an initial test, and found the Connect gave me a more snug fit (since I have not too wide feet).  The Flow would have more cushion, weigh slightly heavier and provide a nicer fit for the runner who needs width,  My first few strides with the Connect was quite a pleasure as I loved the ample mid-foot cushion with good responsiveness to boot.  

At 8.7ounces, the shoes felt light yet provided a cushy feeling with very snug feel.  It also gave me a slight forward lean which could be due to the ‘rounded-off’ design of the shoe, including a slight upward tilt at the front (which is good for me as I keep my feet rather close to the ground).  That makes it more propelling and makes me go a tad faster than what I could be comfortable at first, but it will definitely make for some very fast running – just great for racing up to 21km distances.

This shoe comes with 5 key features, integrated quite seamlessly to give that overall feeling of snugness, responsiveness and propulsion.

Heel Wrap
The heel is made to wrap the heel better to prevent the feet from wobbling about, an issue faced by many Asian runners who experience ‘heel slippage’ with conventional shoes.  

Toe Split
The split on the underside of the shoes between the big toe and the rest of the 4 other toes provide that nice touch, which might have given the feeling of better grip and road-holding even on uneven surfaces, as was experienced in my trial run through some trail terrain.

Go Green
The “green” midsole technology incorporates less layers to give a better feel for the road and a responsive ride. The 4mm heel-toe differential (drop) was very comfortable for me as they tax my calves a lot less than zero-drop shoes, and in some ways, help to give than forward tilt and lean.

Elastic Band
The elastic band on the top of the mid-foot helps to wrap the sides of the feet in to give the snug feel.  Because of that, I have had to go ½ size up to US10 for a more comfortable fit.  Asian runners with wider feet might find it a bit too snug for comfort, and that's when they can take a look at the Flow version.

Natural Last
The PureProject line prides itself as having a natural last that follows the shape of the feet. 

Philosophy behind the Brooks Pure Project Line

To the Minimalist or Barefoot purist, the Pure Project line would definitely not qualify to be one.  However, I feel it is sufficiently minimal without sacrificing the mid-foot cushioning, responsiveness and ground holding, which is more similar to racers.  Definitely a good shoe for runners who are new to minimalist running, and are seeking a safer option to train for and transition progressively towards minimalist running.

I would also take the Pure Connect for speedwork, tempo runs and even LSDs for up to 30km.  I have run it in for distances of 10-25km rather comfortably thus far, along road and x-terrain.

I am suitably impressed with the Brooks Pure Project line, especially with the Connect.  A few of my friends have also provided very positive feedback on the Flow and Cadence (structured cushioning) range that they have trialed.  I see the Pure Project line can be a good contender in the Minimalist Running & racing market, and look forward to taking them for even longer runs and more trials.

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